Continuing the theme of the past couple of weeks, it's time to look at the third item on the 8 Steps to Improving Your Musicianship:
3. Start with a positive intention. Play how you want the music to sound.
Straight off the bat, I've done enough research and had enough experience to know that the power of positive thinking is not a magic cure-all, and I'm not about to tell you that you'll magically become a better player if you just believe in yourself. So if that's not the case, then what's the point of starting with a positive intention?
We're looking at something called Ironic Process Theory - basically, the idea that the more likely you are to suppress or avoid something, the more likely it is to come to the surface. A commonly given example is the instruction to NOT think of a pink rhinoceros. Almost impossible, because in the act of trying to think of what to avoid, you've probably already conjured up a pink rhinoceros in your mind. It's closely related to the idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When it comes to playing the piano, so much of our attention is often on the things that we don't want to happen, rather than the things we do. How often before starting have you had the thought of, "I hope I don't make any mistakes," or something similar? What does that say about what you're likely to focus on as you play the piece? You're probably only going to be on the lookout for mistakes, and when they come along (inevitably) you'll have that wonderful self-affirming realisation that you were right! You knew you were going to make mistakes! How clever of you...
As an exercise, before you start playing a piece or a scale or anything that makes a noise on the piano, start with the question "What do I want it to sound like?" Take your time to imagine the sound of the notes, the tempo you'll start at, the volume of the piece, the tricky part being played all the way through. We're great at responding to instruction and intention, so begin with a positive one.
Play to how you want it to sound rather than trying to avoid having it sound bad.
I still have one ticket available for the Ben Folds & QSO concert on Wednesday next week. Please let me know ASAP if you're thinking you might like to come along and I can charge the value of the ticket to your account.
Things I've been watching/listening to this week: